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Moon, Mars at nightfall March 30

Tonight – March 30, 2017 – presents the moon and Mars. To view tonight’s evening couple, simply look in your western sky at nightfall and early evening. Keep in mind that Mars will appear no brighter than a modestly-bright star.

By the way, the lit side of the waxing crescent moon points in the direction of the planet Mercury. If you live in the Northern Hemisphere or the Southern Hemisphere tropics, you might catch this world with the eye alone an hour or so after sunset. If you can’t see Mercury with the unaided eye, try your luck with binoculars.

Mercury won’t be easily visible from southern temperate latitudes, even with binoculars, because it sets so soon after the sun. Click here for an almanac giving you the setting times of the sun and Mercury in your sky.

Given a clear sky, everyone worldwide should be able to see the bright star Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster, the constellation Taurus the Bull’s two most prominent signposts. Over the next several days, watch as the moon travels in front of this backdrop constellation of the zodiac in late March and early April 2017.

Watch for the waxing crescent moon to meet up with Mars on March 30 and the Pleiades star cluster on March 31. The green line depicts the ecliptic – Earth’s orbital plane projected onto the constellations of the zodiac.

Meanwhile, let the moon guide your eye to the red planet Mars (and possibly Mercury) as darkness falls on March 30.

Bruce McClure